Russian Tensions

August 2022 Forums General discussion Russian Tensions

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  • #228109
    1stworldview
    Blocked

    Putin crowned Tsar would be Vladimir III.

    #228111
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Confirmation from CNN that it is the Azov Battalion that is holding out in Mariupol at the expense of the lives, limbs and houses of the population there:

    “Captain Svyatoslav Palamar, of the National Guard Azov Regiment, said he and his fellow fighters would not surrender in Mariupol.”

    #228112
    1stworldview
    Blocked
    #228115
    sshenfield
    Participant

    The Russian anarchist website https://aitrus.info/node/5934 has posted an interview with an anarchist in Gorlovka, which is a town in the Donetsk People’s Republic. As it’s unusual to get news from such a vantage point, here is a translation of some of what he said:

    ‘Before Putin recognized the “independence” of the DPR the situation in my town was quiet enough. After recognition many residents hoped that Russia would send “peacekeeping forces” to the DPR and the war would stop. Instead, a considerable part of the town’s male population was mobilized into the “People’s Militia of the DPR.” At municipal service facilities at least 50% of men were mobilized, at some 100%. As a result there was no one left to repair many objects of the infrastructure. A city sewerage worker I know said on March 13: “We still have water for a few days. After that we’ll be in the shit.” There is a much stronger feeling of fear in the town than in 2014. But there are still enough food and other products on the shelves of stores.

    As for the military situation in the area, the front line has not shifted and I don’t expect it to in the foreseeable future. But artillery fire has become more intensive.

    My father and I stay home almost all the time, so that we don’t get handed mobilization notices on the street. We live in the central district, which throughout the war has been relatively little affected by artillery fire. Things have always been much worse for people living on the outskirts. So we are lucky.

    There have been instances of whole groups of people being forced into motor vehicles and driven off to the military recruitment office. Even people with a “white ticket” have been mobilized. Although it is possible to avoid service legally. If you end up in the recruitment office, demand a full medical examination. That will take several days. If serious problems with your health are found they will let you go. My neighbor was excused because he used to have cancer. Even if there are no serious problems with your health, you can use the delay to find a reliable hiding place.

    As for those who are mobilized, some are sent to the front, others serve in the rear. I know of instances when men were sent to serve in Kharkov or Kherson Province or at a “sorting station.” Trucks are loaded with the corpses of Russian soldiers and they are taken to Crimea. One told me: “I’d sooner go to prison for five years than see all this horror.” Many of the mobilized men have already been killed or wounded. Others have been taken prisoner. Those who refuse to go to the front are threatened with criminal charges.

    At the very start of mobilization people were promised that they would just spend a few days in barracks and then be sent home. That is why many turned up at the recruitment office. Also because they feared possible problems at work if they failed to show up. Fighting spirit was nowhere to be found. The DPR “patriots” whom I know have not the slightest wish to join the “People’s Militia” and take part in the war.

    The people of the Donbas have always been passive and attracted to a “firm hand.” The miners’ strikes in the 1990s and beginning of the 2000s were the peak of class struggle, but once the Ukrainian economy stabilized and the miners began to get decent wages their activism faded.

    There was a group of non-political volunteers in my town in the first years of the war, who helped residents who could not care for themselves. But for a long time now I have heard nothing of these volunteers. There is no sign of grassroots self-organization here.

    #228117
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    A fuller description of the political party bans

    https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2022/3/21/why-did-ukraine-suspend-11-pro-russia-parties

    “…the decision to suspend the parties follows a pattern. Since last year, the government has imposed sanctions on opposition media and some opposition leaders on a regular basis, without providing any convincing evidence of wrongdoing to the public…”

    #228120
    pgb
    Participant

    AJJ: You refer to the current war in Ukraine as a “capitalist conflict”. How is that so? It’s not enough to say that Putin is a capitalist, or that he acts on the orders of capitalists or that he acts in the interest of a capitalist class. You would have to show that he invaded Ukraine because he is a capitalist … etc. Like showing that he wants to secure markets or trade routes or gain access to scarce resources, all in the pursuit of profit. But where is the evidence for this? There is (unusually) almost universal agreement that Putin invaded Ukraine in order to incorporate it within the Russian nation state just as it was in Imperial Russia. What’s that got to do with Russian capitalism? Putin believes that Ukrainians and Russians have a common cultural identity and therefore have, or should have, a common state identity. He blames Lenin for having given Ukraine the semblance of a separate nation state. Putin is an extreme Russian nationalist in the tradition of nineteenth century reactionary Slavophils (he reminds me a bit of Nicholas I who saw himself as the saviour of Christian communities under Ottoman rule and ended up triggering a war. Just like Putin seeing himself as the saviour of ethnic Russians in Ukraine).

    You ask “Who cares which parasitic class claims to own which patch of dirt?” I imagine the Ukraine workers fighting against Russians don’t give a damn. And I can’t imagine that they are consciously fighting for what you call “the nation state of Ukraine”. Surely they are fighting to defend their own “patch of dirt” because it’s where they live, in their houses, where their children go to school, where their parents, aunties and uncles and friends live, and like all normal people they don’t like someone coming along and blowing it all up and threatening to rule over them rather than themselves deciding who they want to rule. Your advice that Ukraine workers should “flee to safety” rather than resist the invaders would I guess be greeted with derision if you were to say it directly to Ukrainian workers. The idea that they would all be better off advocating socialist ideas is too silly for words, particularly coming from the SPGB which has been advocating socialist ideas for more than a century without apparent effect.

    DJP: You suggest that when Ukrainian workers defend their patch of dirt (as above), what they are really doing is “defending the state”. Given your particular theory of the state, I guess that’s a fair assumption. But do you believe that this is what Ukrainian workers defending their patch actually believe? Or even think about? As an advocate “of clear- headed analysis”
    I fail to see that your clear separation of the Ukrainian state and its subjects advances understanding of the reasons why Ukrainian workers fight Russian invaders or what motivates them to do so. Surely one can agree with the proposition that the state in capitalist Ukraine is a capitalist state and also believe in defending one’s “patch of dirt”. And what if the workers’ defence doesn’t advance the movement for socialism? It doesn’t advance the movement for liberalism or any other ism either, because that’s not what workers are fighting for.

    Robbo says that “Just because a worker says something is in her interest does not make it so. It is called false consciousness.”
    When someone says that, the first thing to ask is “what then is true consciousness?” Robbo’s answer can only be – a socialist (SPGB) consciousness. This effectively makes what workers interests ought to be displace their actual empirical interests as they profess them. In making judgments about the rights and wrongs of Ukrainian workers fighting Russian invaders, like Andrew Kliman I’ll listen to what they say, not what anyone believes they ought to say.

    If you (DJP, ALB) find the “right to self-determination an incoherent concept” why not change it to “the self determination of peoples”? The Palestinians do not have a nation but they are surely speaking coherently when they call for the self determination of the Palestinian people, and it’s not hard to figure out what they mean. When Ukrainians call for “self-determination” they are merely asserting their right to live in a place which they regard as their own, and having the right to choose their own government rather than having one imposed on them by Putin. Arguments about contradictions in the use of terms like nation and nationalism and national self-determination are arguments about the use of concepts and provide no serious foothold of criticism when making practical judgements about the conflict in Ukraine. Save a few minor disagreements, overall I think Andrew Kliman’s piece in MHI is very good.

    #228121
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    PGB, there is a motive that you never referred to and that is sphere of influence for military reasons. Yes, despite the denials from some quarters, the NATO threat was the very reason for the invasion. A simple declaration that Ukraine would not join NATO was all that was required, with further negotiation on the status of DPR and LPR under the Minsk Talks. But we will never really know in the end, shall we? That assurance was never given to Russia.

    It is all very well advocating peace during peace but opposing war when it matters, being in one, and still standing by your analysis is entirely different and not being swayed by emotion of the sights of atrocities that are fully expected in a war.

    Ukraine’s decision to embrace the EU economically rather then deepen its business ties with Russia was the original reason for the 2014 Maidan coup. How history is forgotten?

    All your appeals to nationalism are exactly the same as used by the Russian-speakers who are exercising their “self-determination” with breakaway republics.

    Putin is parroting exactly the very same message given by Goering. Putin declared, “… the Russian people, will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors, and simply spit them out like a gnat that accidentally flew into their mouths, spit them out on the pavement.”

    And in 1945, Goering said.
    “Naturally the common people don’t want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

    You say it is better to defend artificial borders with blood, I suggest despite the challenge in opposing the concept of nation-states, we should continue our reluctance to going down the nationalist rabbit hole of patriotism.

    Ukrainians are voting with their feet to seek sanctuary and the Ukrainian government has resorted to compulsory call-up of all males of fighting age, denying them the option of fleeing. Men are being stopped at the border and interrogated and conscripted.

    To the Israelis, Yerenskyy raises the spectre of Ukrainian genocidal holocaust. Do you believe that is Putin’s purpose?

    Yerenskyy is using the human shield tactic, refusing surrender of Kiev and Mariupol despite the well-attested example of ruthlessness exercised by Putin in Grozny during the Chechen war. Sacrificial victims for propaganda purposes.

    You indeed raise the analogy of the Palestinian people being state-less and desiring a country of their own…just as exactly as the Jewish Zionists plead.

    You suggest all that self-determination means is living in a country of your choice and exercising the traditions and customs you hold dear. But is it really? Isn’t it also excluding others of those same rights. Have you read of the discrimination faced by the Ukrainian Roma, a people who have had their self-identity denied by almost every government?

    3 million Vietnamese died for the “freedom” to work in sweatshops and buy McDonalds. Was it worth it? How many died to be free from colonial rule and found themselves ruled over by autocrats who spent much of their lives in Monaco or London’s west-end? Was it worth it?

    The truth hurts. Facts can be painful. We are first to admit our message is not a popular one and won’t be well-received. Not by the right nor the left, not by nationalists or white supremacists. Do you think the reactionaries are not as sincere in their false beliefs and resent us, as well?

    But I don’t want this to become a squabble of who is high or low in the league table of oppression.

    You have chosen one side to support, just as many millions of Russians have also done who disagree with you. Our sympathies go to those few Russians who refuse to follow that nationalism and reject the need for war and are presently now in gaol.

    And our sympathy also goes to the Ukrainian willing to be accused of being a coward and a traitor for believing being a martyr isn’t the way for a human being to act.

    O Truth, how many falsehoods are broadcast in thy name

    #228123
    ALB
    Keymaster

    A fuller description of the political party bans

    https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2022/3/21/why-did-ukraine-suspend-11-pro-russia-parties

    This article should be given the widest possible publicity as it completely refutes the propaganda that the Ukraine state is fighting for “democracy”, “Western values”, etc. The Econonist Intelligence Unit refuses to classify Ukraine even as a “flawed democracy” but only as a “hybrid” between a flawed democracy and an authoritarian regime. This move will mean it goes down a few more notches in that direction.

    Zelensky likes to address other state’s parliaments but one state whose parliament he hasn’t addressed is Ukraine’s. That would be a bit embarrassing as the places for a main opposition party with a tenth of the seats and nearly a fifth of votes cast would be empty.

    Here is another key passage:

    “After the Euromaidan revolution, and Russia’s hostile actions in Crimea and Donbas, however, the pro-Russian camp was marginalised in Ukrainian politics. And at the same time, the pro-Russian label became very inflated. It started to be used to describe anyone calling for Ukraine’s neutrality. It has also started to be employed to discredit and silence sovereigntist, state-developmentalist, anti-Western, illiberal, populist, left-wing, and many other discourses.”

    What is ironic (very ironic in fact in view if Barys Johnson’s gaffe) about this is that by the sounds of it as “sovereigntists” some of the banned parties take the same position as the Brexiteers in Britain. But to take an anti-EU position in Ukraine gets you banned.

    #228125
    robbo203
    Participant

    “You ask “Who cares which parasitic class claims to own which patch of dirt?” I imagine the Ukraine workers fighting against Russians don’t give a damn. And I can’t imagine that they are consciously fighting for what you call “the nation state of Ukraine”. Surely they are fighting to defend their own “patch of dirt” because it’s where they live, in their houses, where their children go to school, where their parents, aunties and uncles and friends live, and like all normal people they don’t like someone coming along and blowing it all up and threatening to rule over them”

    LOL PGB

    You have to have your head truly stuck in the clouds to have scribbled this utter tripe. Those Ukrainian workers you refer to have already got somebody ruling over them now. Its called the Ukrainian capitalist state. That is not going to disappear by them taking up arms to fight someone else “threatening to rule over them”. In any case, pray, do tell us – how do you imagine they are going to defend their patch of dirt and prevent the Russian army from blowing it all up by taking up arms against that army in the name of so-called national liberation? That is the one thing that will surely guarantee that their “patch of dirt” will be blown up and that their lives will be destroyed, as we are seeing right now

    The least bad option that Ukrainian workers can take is to simply refuse to engage in this capitalist conflict (which is what it is despite your absurd denials) and, if this is not possible because of conscription, to seek to leave the country. There is no point in being a dead hero for a dud cause. By the same token, the socialist advice to Russian soldiers would be to desert the Russian military in droves or rebel and refuse to fight (there are historical precedents for this). Workers on both sides need to be encouraged to see that there is absolutely no reason for them to fight each other for a cause that is not theirs

    What you are advocating stands directly in the way of this happening. The position you are effectively advocating whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not, is a pro-capitalist and pro-nationalist one. There is no way you can separate in de facto terms workers taking up arms supposedly to defend their patch of dirt from supporting and aiding and abetting the corrupt plutocratic authoritarian state of Zelensky. Worse still what you are advocating will result in the unnecessary and criminal slaughter of far more workers – Ukrainian and Russian – than would otherwise be the case.

    You are effectively preventing the only sane and humane response to this tragic situation which is precisely the one outlined by the SPGB and a few others. You should be ashamed of yourself

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 4 weeks ago by robbo203.
    #228127
    robbo203
    Participant

    The position of huge swathes of the Left (with a few honourable exceptions), taking sides in support of either the Russian state or the Ukrainian state, bears comparison with what happened in the First World War when the Second International crumbled under the impact of toxic nationalist sentiments and when even lip service to revolutionary socialism was quietly abandoned thereafter. Yet again the disease of nationalism dressed up as the so-called struggle against “anti-imperialism” has claimed more victims.

    What did Marx say about History repeating itself, “first as tragedy, second as farce”?

    #228129
    DJP
    Participant

    PGB wrote:If you (DJP, ALB) find the “right to self-determination an incoherent concept” why not change it to “the self determination of peoples”? […] they are merely asserting their right to live in a place which they regard as their own, and having the right to choose their own government rather than having one imposed on them by Putin

    The “self-determination of peoples” is what is meant by the “national self-determination” so no that doesn’t solve the problem.

    The idea of national self-determination is incoherent because the world doesn’t split into nice defined geographical areas where everyone within them forms a nice distinct group that share the same interests, identities or desires. Wherever the boundaries of a nation are presumed to be, that area will include people that do not belong to the national group (no matter how long they have lived there, the Roma is a good example).

    I am working from the principle that “working people have no country”. People may regard the place they grew up as “their own” and think the nation-state is something they have chosen and that exists to allow them to express their interests. But both of these ideas are illusionary.

    That said, of course I can sympathise with those that want to fight in the face of an invasion. The trouble is, the outcome of this will not be freedom for working people and the longer this goes on the more the suffering will be.

    #228130
    DJP
    Participant

    PGB wrote:You suggest that when Ukrainian workers defend their patch of dirt (as above), what they are really doing is “defending the state”. Given your particular theory of the state, I guess that’s a fair assumption. But do you believe that this is what Ukrainian workers defending their patch actually believe? Or even think about?

    What someone thinks about their situation and what the situation actually is are two separate things.

    #228133
    ALB
    Keymaster

    A news item in today’s Times suggests that Barys the Buffoon and Liz la Gaffe are continuing to exercise a malign influence on the situation.

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/truss-fears-france-and-germany-will-let-putin-off-hook-rbglg9623

    Before the war broke out Britain didn’t want to make any concession that might have permitted a diplomatic solution and now they are keen to sabotage the talks on a deal that are going on between Russia and Ukraine. They have publicly declared that they want Russia not only to fail but to be seem to fail. But Russia has already gained that Ukraine will not join NATO and so won’t be seen to have failed and the gruesome twosome won’t be satisfied so don’t want to talks to succeed. They would prefer the war to continue until Russia is somehow defeated. They are classic war-mongers.

    The alternative explanation is just as unflattering. They are doing it to save in the one case and advance in the other their miserable little political careers. Despicable even by capitalism’s standards.

    #228134
    DJP
    Participant

    As we are talking about national self-determination perhaps it would be good to remind people of this article. PGB it would be good to know what you think about it, and how relevant it is to the Ukraine conflict.

    https://gegen-kapital-und-nation.org/en/since-you-mentioned-us/

    #228137
    sshenfield
    Participant

    The excellent article by Gegen Kapital und Nation, which views nationalism as an artificial ideology inculcated by small groups of intellectuals who create a national movement and capture state power, accords with — and may well be inspired by — the classic ‘Imagined Communities’ by Benedict Anderson. This account, which has become quite fashionable in academia, best fits the Italian and German cases. The fit is not so good for cases in which nationalism develops within pre-existing states, e.g., Britain, France, Russia. And there are a few cases in which nationalism bases itself on a real cultural-religious community that goes back to ancient times such as the Armenians and Jews. So it’s also worth reading a critique of Anderson such as Anthony Smith’s ‘Nationalism’.

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